German Gymnasts Share Powerful Reason They’re Competing in Full-Coverage Bodysuits Instead of Leotards

Three German gymnasts are raising the bar for how women are treated in their sport, starting with the uniforms. 

Sarah Voss broke away from traditional leotards during her performance at the European Artistic Gymnastics Championships last week. The forward-thinking athlete instead opted for a full-body suit with long sleeves and pants for her routine, which took place in Basel, Switzerland. 

According to the BBC, the German Gymnastics Federation (DTB) said the gymnasts took a stand against “sexualisation in gymnastics” with the new looks, which it believes can help prevent sexual abuse within the female-centric sport. The outlet notes that DTB rules state that gymnasts can wear a “one-piece leotard with full-length legs—hip to ankle.” 

Voss, 21, said, “We hope gymnasts uncomfortable in the usual outfits will feel emboldened to follow our example.” 

As she told Germany’s national public television broadcaster, ZDF, “We, women, all want to feel good in our skin. In the sport of gymnastics it gets harder and harder as you grow out of your child’s body. As a little girl I didn’t see the tight gym outfits as such a big deal. But when puberty began, when my period came, I began feeling increasingly uncomfortable.”

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